Is Poland a failing democracy?


Poland’s new right-wing government faces international demands to roll back radical changes to the country’s institutions, but the odds that it will suffer any serious punishment from Brussels are close to zero, analyst Jan Cienski writes for POLITICO.

POLITICO asked leading thinkers, experts, policymakers and politicians to address the Polish question of 2016: Is its democracy really in danger?

Poland didn’t lurch right: PiS is a throwback to Soviet-style politics, says Adam Zamoyski, the author, inter alia, of “Poland: A History” (Hippocrene, 2012) and “Warsaw 1920″ (HarperCollins, 2008).

Western interference unwisely turns Polish opinion hostile, argues Walter Laqueur, an historian and author, most recently, of “Putinism: Russia and its future with the West” (Thomas Dunne Books, 2015):

The next Polish elections will not be won or lost in New York, London or even Brussels. Part of Polish popular opinion has become strongly anti-Western and in particular, anti-German, as a result of what they regard as unwarranted interference. I am told 19th-century patriotic songs have again become fashionable. This is about the last thing we need at a time when Europe faces very serious challenges and needs unity more than ever before.

Poland threatens Europe’s unity, according to Jiri Pehe, a political analyst and professor at New York University’s Center for European Mediterranean Studies and director of NYU Prague:

Poland — just like Slovakia during the rule of Vladimír Mečiar and contemporary Hungary — is quickly becoming an illiberal democracy. For the time being it will adhere to basic democratic mechanisms, such as regular elections, but it will continue to violate some basic principles of liberal constitutionalism. All institutions that are by definition independent from governments in liberal democracies — such as public media, the judiciary and central banks — will come under increasing pressure.


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